Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Instagram Update 12/27/16

Here's a little taste of what's been up on Instagram lately. Also, here's our family Christmas picture!



A photo posted by Ashley D (@ourgoldtoharvest) on



When I had three tiny children, oftentimes situations would arise which felt completely beyond my capacity to handle. I would often pray for a change in my situation--- for a child's behavior to stop (or at least the noise level!) or for peace to enter my heart. My "wishes" never seemed to "come true," but I still believed, hoping for something better. Yesterday I was in a similar parenting situation where I felt beyond my own strength and capacity. I again prayed for help and peace. An immediate peace entered my heart, and with it this scripture. I can recognize now as the years have passed  since those early days that it's not God who has changed, but ME. I have more faith in his promises. I have more hope in what He can provide me. If you feel like God doesn't answer your prayers, the answer is not LESS faith, it's MORE. Step into the darkness. Believe. God doesn't work in INSTANTS like we are so used to in this world, but He DOES work! #believe #hope #peace #faith #prayerworks
A photo posted by Ashley D (@ourgoldtoharvest) on






📷: Mormon.org Today's #lighttheworld challenge "The Savior showed humility and so can you" is something close to my heart that I've been given a lot of lessons in the past year (I seem to be getting lessons in it every year, which I am so grateful for). I've come to realize that humility is so much more than I had ever imagined. It means believing you're not entitled to everything. It means being honest with yourself about things you need to improve. It means recognizing that your own wisdom is limited, and that His is all-knowing. The scripture for today is Luke 22:41–42 (which is a beautiful scripture, please look it up!) but the one that's been on my mind the last several months regarding humility is 2 Timothy 3:2: "Men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, unthankful." Often, on social media I find myself in such an attitude. I'm either comparing and thinking how great I am, or comparing and deciding I don't have enough. Either way, it puts MYSELF above anyone else I could or should be thinking about. I don't think social media in itself is evil, but I do think I give Satan a little too much power over me sometimes when I don't put it in it's proper place. This is the gift I want to give to my Savior today, to choose to be humble. I don't normally do such things, but I had an idea come to my head and I wanted to share it with you guys. Some of you are probably pretty good about taking "social media fasts." I always mean to, but I don't think I have for awhile. Do you want to do it with me? I am going to try and not check social media until after lunch tomorrow. If you want to participate, would you mind clicking the heart button?
A photo posted by Ashley D (@ourgoldtoharvest) on






A photo posted by Ashley D (@ourgoldtoharvest) on









A photo posted by Ashley D (@ourgoldtoharvest) on



A photo posted by Ashley D (@ourgoldtoharvest) on



I was a mean mom tonight. I've been flying solo the last few days because Ben's had a lot going lately, and tonight, after a long hard day with a cranky baby and naughty children, I let it show. I flew off the handle, and I was embarrassed that me, a grown woman, had made little children cry because my meanness. Through my own tears, I asked for their forgiveness. I was amazed at Delaney's complete 180 after my request, and she lovingly hugged me, "I forgive you momma." I was overcome with gratitude. It gave me a lot to contemplate as I read this talk by Elder Duncan tonight, and I pondered on people I could forgive in my own life through the help of my Savior. With his help we can learn to love as little children love, and forgive as little children forgive.  For more from this inspiring talk, search "forgiveness" on conference.lds.org #forgiveness #ldsconf #ldschurch #lds
A photo posted by Ashley D (@ourgoldtoharvest) on







Saturday, December 17, 2016

Living in Thanksgiving Daily


"Humble yourselves, worship God, live in thanksgiving daily"

This scripture from the Book of Mormon (Alma 34:38), has given me a lot to think about. 

The word thanksgiving is usually associated with the Pilgrims, a people who had very little of the comforts of home. In their very first year, after much trial and hardship, death and disease, they sat down at a feast with their new neighbors to say "thank you" for all the things they did have, despite not having very much.

It reminds me of another story in the Book of Mormon, the people of Alma, who were in bondage. They escaped from the Lamanites in the middle of the night while the guards were sleeping, and finally made it safety. It says in Mosiah 24:20-22:

"And [after] they had traveled all day [in the wilderness], they pitched their tents. Yea, they poured out their thanks to God because he had been merciful unto them, and eased their burdens."

In both stories, these people had a lot to be unhappy about. The people of Alma had suffered for so long, and there was so much they could complain about. It was the same for the Pilgrims. Yet they both chose to live in thanksgiving daily.

What can living in thanksgiving daily give you?

I think all of us can find something to be unhappy about There's something that is not going right, something that we wish were different. Yet as Elder Worthlin says, "Think for a moment of someone you know who is truly happy. We've all met those who seem to radiate happiness. They seem to smile more than others, they laugh more than others-- just being around them makes us happier as well. These are the people that have the attribute of gratitude-- they live in thanksgiving daily."


What is life like without thanksgiving daily?

In this phenomenal talk by Elder Worthlin, he tells a story. See if you can see yourself in this man who is the subject of his story.

"A long time ago in a faraway village lived a man who everyone did their very best to avoid. He was the type of person who believed that there was only one competent person in the world, and that one person was himself. Consequently he was never satisfied with anything. His shoes never fit right. His shirt never felt comfortable. When his food wasn’t too cold, it was too salty, and when it wasn’t too hot, it was too bland.
If a field wasn’t sowed by himself, it was not sowed well. If he didn’t close the door, the door was not closed properly.
In short, he made a career of frowning, lecturing, criticizing, and mumbling about the incompetencies of every other person in the rest of the world.
Unfortunately, the man was married, which made matters all the worse. No matter what his wife did, in his eyes it was wrong. No matter what the unfortunate woman cooked, sewed, or cleaned, or even when she milked the cow, it was never satisfactory, and he let her know it.
She tried very hard to be a good wife, but it seemed the harder she tried the less she pleased him."
Have you ever found yourself feeling like this? Nothing is right? Nobody can do anything right, and you HATE everything? I know I have! 😄
But think again about that person you know who seems to radiate happiness, the person that is full of gratitude.
"Gratitude is a mark of a noble soul and a refined character." Elder Worthlin states, "We like to be around those who are grateful. They tend to brighten all around them. They make others feel better about themselves. They tend to be more humble, more joyful, more likable."
I don't know about you, but that is the kind of person I want to be. I want to live in thanksgiving daily. I want to show my Heavenly Father who much I love him, and how grateful I am for all He has given me.

How to live in thanksgiving daily

First, as Elder Worthlin states, we must open our eyes.

We need to see the goodness that is around us. It's so easy in the world to let everything grow monotonous, for everything to feel the same. But, there is much to see if we only open our eyes. The beauty of a flower or the kindness someone offers us, the laugh of a child. When we open our eyes we are more willing to see what God has already put in front of us.
My old neighbor Rachel always exemplified this. She was one of those kind of people that would knock on your door and say with a smile, "It's raining! Isn't it wonderful? Do you guys want to come out and play in the rain with us?" I must say her love for life was infectious! 

Second, we can open our hearts.

Sister Neill F. Marriott tells the story of an experience she had many years ago with a woman she needed to forgive. She talks about her heart being so hard because she was so hurt and frustrated with the way this other woman treated her. She spent a lot of time talking to the Lord about it, but little time listening. She said, finally, when she paused, she felt the spirit tell her, "You just need to love her. Like I love her." From that moment on she began praying to feel Heavenly Father's love for this woman.
She read in Moroni 7:48: Pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ.
Many of us have people we are harboring ill feelings towards. I know I have those in my life I need to forgive. I have found that when I focus less on how I feel, and more on how I can be filled with my Savior's love for them, I find more things to be grateful for. There ends up being more room in my heart for others because I am not so consumed with being frustrated by the way other people treat me.

Lastly, we can open our arms.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, we went with my sister's family to visit a rest home and wish them all a Happy Thanksgiving. I watched as my brother-in-law would tenderly hold their hands and look into their eyes as he talked to them. It really touched me. So often we overlook people or do service to make ourselves look better. But really, service is about other people. It's about lifting their hearts. It's about forgetting yourself for awhile, shelving your own problems and thinking about someone else's.
I have found that when I serve others, I am more aware of what I have by recognizing where others are in desperate need. For some, it's a listening ear. For others, it's money to pay for the light bill. For another, it's a loving family. The Lord has greatly blessed all of us, and the only thing he asks for in return is a thankful heart.
Again from Elder Worthlin, 
"Over the course of my years, I have met thousands of people. I have dined with the prosperous as well as the poverty-stricken. I have conversed with the mighty and with the meek. I have walked with the famous and the feeble. I have run with outstanding athletes and those who are not athletically inclined. 
One thing I can tell you with certainty is this: You cannot predict happiness by the amount of money, fame, or power a person has. External conditions do not necessarily make a person happy. The brethren who have had assignments in Africa report that despite the abject poverty, the people are very happy. The fact is that the external things so valued by the world are often the cause of a great deal of misery in the world. Those who live in thanksgiving daily, however, are usually among the world’s happiest people. And they make others happy as well."

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

My Love



I've written before about how, as a young girl, I once believed the romance and attraction shown in movies was reserved for especially good looking people, or people with "fairytale" love stories. I must say that part of that childhood belief included that as you got older, that romance wore off. I'm happy to say that romance never really dies-- and there are always things worth swooning over in your spouse-- no matter how un-fairy-like your story is or how old and bent out of shape you become. I have many more years left in this life with my love, and I hope to always cultivate an attitude of gratitude, of seeing the romance, with each passing year.

He still makes me laugh. I love the way he can take something serious and make it light. I love his hearty chuckle, his playfulness.

I still can't help but run my fingers through his hair after it's been cut, or look twice when he gets dressed up for church. He's still handsome to me.

I'm still amazed by how strong he is. Those same arms that can haul heavy sheets of wood to his workshop with ease can still gently hold me as we drift off to sleep.

I love to see his gentleness with our children. The way he lovingly scoops them up after a long day at work, and piles them all on to his lap. "We need a bigger chair!" He tells me.

I love his "no frills" love for me. Always steady, always constant. He is loyal. He's not a man of many words, and not much for expressing himself, but I can feel his love when he is around. It's so different from my femininity. He is manly and stoic, I'm attracted to that.

Sometimes I wake up cold in the night, and I realize I've rolled away from him. As I scoot in closer to Ben I wrap my arms around him and whisper in his ear, "You are the man of my dreams."

He's not perfect, no man is, but there's so much to admire in people when you look for it. Neither am I perfect. I don't always choose to see what I have, but tonight, and most nights, I choose gratitude. I love my wonderful Ben.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Hope, Jesus' Best Gift


I've been reflecting this Christmas season on some of the things I love the most about my Savior. I believe the biggest gift we receive because of His Atonement is hope.

Because of His gift, we can forgive others. People may wrong us, others can do great evil, and we can still love. We can be hurting, broken, forsaken by those we love, and still have hope. It is, as The Living Christ states, a "matchless gift." There is always light. There is always hope. Always a peace and calm available to those who seek it.

I'm so grateful for hope in my life! To think that such terrible, terrible things can be done in our world, and to know that Jesus died for every single person, knowing full well the "unforgivable" acts others would commit-- it brings me a lot of peace. I don't need to carry their burden or be the judge of who is worth forgiving-- Jesus Christ paid for all of their sins, and their hearts are for Him to judge, not me. His message is that there's always something better. There will BE something better in the next life. And you and I can put our faith and hope and trust in it, because we can put our faith and trust and hope in HIM.


That's the God I believe in. And that's the one who reaches out to me when I'm sad or hurt, confused or afraid. He says Trust Me. Believe in me. Hold on a little longer.

Thank you God, for the gift of your Divine Son this Christmas season!!

"Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God."

Saturday, December 3, 2016

November

 Sometimes Indiana just kills me with how beautiful it is



These are from back in August, but somehow I missed posting them.

After Cheyenne started going to school all day these two realized they would make great playmates. It's been a little hard for Cheyenne and she feels a little left out. I'm sure it will all even out when Delaney goes to school next year. People always told me that having my kids close would make for easy playmates. It certainly does!


Kroger got a grocery pickup service... and I'm in heaven.

Too bad this one is blurry. Our kids love to take the oven mitts and pretend they are "monkey feet."

My youngest sister Cassidy got engaged!! So so happy! Jan. 7th!!

Ben went on a lot of campouts this month.

One little boy of ours was ELATED to see a combine in the field RIGHT behind our house. We sat and watched it like it was a sports game.

Beautiful fall leaves out our window

One time at the gym childwatch Frank peed out of his clothes but they didn't have anything big enough for him so they wrapped a t-shirt around him. Oh Frankie boy we love you so!

My two big boys. Frank trying out the cart (without a car seat) for the first time!


I am a fan of this guy. Post-bath pic.

King Baby!

Ok this is too cute. Also, evidence of Cheyenne's beautiful handwriting.

Driving to my sister Sarah's for Thanksgiving this year! My brother Derek also drove over from Arkansas (12 hours)! Such a fun party!!

Wild, Wonderful West Virginia!


Cheyenne turned 6 ON Thanksgiving this year. It reminded me of her 1st birthday when the same thing happened (next time it will be her 12th birthday!). My sister Sarah thought of a great way to make her birthday special-- celebrate it in the morning before the big dinner with a donut cake! She loved it.


We went on a fun hike while we were at Sarah's for Thanksgiving

Love these people









I love when the ground is covered in a leaf blanket. I don't understand why everyone feels the need to rake them up and put them in bags. I think leaves completely covering the ground has its own kind of beauty!

For you, Clara! We found her favorite childhood slide at this playground in the park. It was only slightly terrifying and Ephraim could have fallen off the side of it several times. Now I know why they don't make slides like that anymore!


Derek and Clara's pregnancy announcement. She has a 'bun in the oven.'

I am a fan of this boy too, Derek & Clara's little boy Tom.

With Sarah's cute Norah




Warning: baby overload








...Chunk-a-hunk-a-hunk.


My brother Derek and I with our babies (Thomas weighs only two lbs. more, although he is 7 months older).

I included all of these in case you wanted to keep one Derek. Cute family.





Movie notes:
-Ben took two of the pie face ones in slo-mo but they were too long so I had to speed them up, but the sound still sounds funny.
-I used this recipe for the homemade hot chocolate (just enough for my small children. I made another batch because they loved it so much)
-A few of the books we loved:
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Where's My Darling Daughter? by Mij Kelly
King Baby by Kate Beaton